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Dry Bean Fertility Requirements

Dry bean requires balanced fertility for optimum yield. The crop will respond to added fertilizer nutrients when soil test levels are low to medium. It is always best to soil test as an aid in developing a sound fertilizer management program.

Nitrogen (N)

  • nitrogen is needed for optimum yields of irrigated bean
  • dry bean is a legume capable of nitrogen fixation – when the seed is inoculated with the correct rhizobium bacteria, up to 40 per cent of total nitrogen in the plant may come from N fixation
  • on irrigated land, N fertilizer is recommended if soil test N is less than 40 lb./ac. in the 0 to 24 inch depth (application of 20 to 40 lb. of N/ac. is suggested)

Phosphorus (P)

  • phosphorus is a nutrient required in relatively large amounts
  • a soil test is recommended to determine optimum phosphate fertilizer rates – Table 41 can be used as a guide in interpreting your soil analysis and deciding how much phosphate fertilizer is required
  • phosphate fertilizer cannot be safely applied with the seed, so apply either by banding prior to seeding or side band at planting time

Table 41. Phosphorous fertilizer recommendations for irrigated dry bean

Potassium (K)

  • levels of potassium in soil are usually adequate in most bean growing areas, so potassium fertilizer is not normally required
  • however, if soil test potassium levels are less than 200 lb./ac., then follow the analysis report recommendation for potassium

Sulphur (S)

  • sulphur is required for optimum yield, but is normally not limited in most irrigated soil as irrigation water contains substantial amounts of sulfate-sulfur (amounts in the water vary over time) – approximately 30 lb./ac. of sulfate/sulfur is added to the soil with 12 inches of irrigation water
  • test soil to a depth of 24 inches to determine if sulphur fertilizer is required – if analysis levels are less than 20 lb./ac., follow recommendations of the analysis report
  • general sulphur fertilizer recommendations are shown in Table 42

Table 42. Sulphur fertilizer recommendations for irrigated dry bean


  • dry bean requires a supply of all the essential micronutrients: namely boron (B), chlorine (Cl), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo) and zinc (Zc)
  • zinc deficiency in bean plants may occur if soil pH is higher than 7.5, if soil has had high phosphate fertilizer or manure application, or if spring and early summer weather is cool and damp
  • zinc deficiencies can be corrected with a pre-plant application of banded granular zinc sulfate at a rate of 2-5 lb./ac. – a foliar application of 0.5 per cent zinc sulfate should be applied if deficiency symptoms appear after emergence
  • zinc deficiency is most evident following sugar beets in the rotation